Q: My boss keeps trying to tell me that I make more money than most other employees in this neighborhood. Things are getting more expensive all the time and it’s becoming harder and harder to get by. My boss says things are expensive for him too, but that’s not my problem. How can we convince him that we all need a raise?

A: Most people are feeling the pinch of rising prices that result from increased energy costs. Gas, food, utilities and many other products that require petroleum have seen inflation rates that haven’t occurred for many years. As you mention, your boss is feeling the effects as well, but with several more zeros at the end of the numbers.

From a purely business standpoint, it is hard to give raises of any kind when your production costs are skyrocketing in all other areas. It will take some time for all of this to balance out. In the meantime, owners have to find a way to be fair to their employees while still keeping their businesses’ doors open.

Even during positive financial times, business owners struggle with setting pay levels. Here are some examples of thoughts that your boss has to run through: What is fair? Which employees have I been able to count on? Which ones do the best job and are the most deserving of an increase? How can I be sure that increasing pay won’t cause the entire business to fail if things continue to get worse? How do I make sure we’re not taking advantage of our most loyal employees? The fate of the operation may rest on how these questions are handled.

If you go to your boss to ask for a raise, and the only reason you can offer him is that it’s costing you more to live, your chances of success are pretty slim. Any time that you ask for greater compensation, put yourself in the boss’ position. He will base his response on some key questions, such as: Is this person doing his job?  Is he reliable? Does he have a good attitude? Is the person’s pay in line with other employees in the company? Does this person cause problems for me with other employees? Is he teachable? If I raise his pay, will I get the same or better performance for my investment?

If you can answer these questions positively, prepare to approach your boss in a professional manner, be ready to verify your value to the company, and give your boss some time to think it over. This is a business transaction, so approach it in a businesslike manner.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.